Welcome to the Thunderdome. If you’re ever in the vicinity of Stirling Golf Club, then you may just hear the odd crash, a fair bit of bang and a considerable amount of wallop emanating from the studio in the pro shop. And no, it’s not the trainee dropping the tray of tea and biscuits again.
This is the aforementioned Thunderdome where Scott Borrowman does his golfing stuff as a power and distance specialist.
Given the ferocity of his thumps and thwacks, the simulator screen that he clatters his golf balls into just about requires the same kind of formidable fortifications you’d get at the nearby castle.
“I christened it the Thunderdome and it’s just stuck,” said the former Scottish amateur No 1 of his high-velocity headquarters. “Even my boss calls it that. When you’ve got a group of golfers going at it, it can get quite loud.”
In this big-hitting business, Borrowman, who is now a qualified PGA pro, has found his niche.
Eager clients, from club golfers to those with lofty ambitions of becoming a tour player, seek his guidance in their quest to gain more club speed, ball speed and, ultimately distance. In the modern game, being short doesn’t get you, well, very far.
A fine amateur as a young ‘un – he was the Scottish under-16 champion and a winner of the Scottish Youths’ title – Borrowman’s path into his particular area of expertise began with him hitting rock bottom.
Out of the blue, he was struck by the yips, a shattering golfing affliction which, effectively, ended his hopes of gaining a foothold as a playing professional.
“It was at a European Tour (now DP World Tour) qualifying school stage a few years ago at The Roxburghe,” recalled Borrowman, who didn’t turn pro until 28 and actually won on his debut in the paid ranks in Egypt before it all unravelled.
“I was playing pretty well through nine holes and then on the 10th, I hit five balls off the tee. It was the yips. That was it. Game over. I came back in about 50 shots. I couldn’t hit a ball. After that round, I sat in a lay-by in tears in complete shock. I didn’t know where to look. Was it technical, was it mental? I was so terrified playing golf.
“I knew it was coming in every tournament. It was like a jolt of lightning when I was hitting a shot. Nothing could stop it or control it. I could feel the anxiety building and then ‘bang’. My entire life had revolved around sport and golf and at the time I was thinking, ‘what do I do now?’.”
Thankfully, an opportunity arose at Linlithgow Golf Club under head pro Kenny Monaghan – who is now his boss at Stirling – and Borrowman embarked on his PGA training.
“I still couldn’t compete due to the yips but as a PGA pro you can do various things outwith competition and I felt I had to find my corner,” said the 37-year-old. “I could still hit the ball a long way, so I started smashing some drivers and it kept going and going and I really got into speed and development.”
In the studio, Borrowman regularly achieves the kind of distances most normal folk would need a cheap-day return ticket for. “When I’m properly going at it, there will be lots of 370-to-400-yard drives,” said Borrowman of his Bryson DeChambeau-esque endeavours. “On a golf course, I’d expect to be 330-plus.
“Lots of people want to do this. It’s instantly measurable as in, ‘am I faster now that when I walked in for a lesson?’. You can see it in the numbers of club head speed and ball speed. It really gets the adrenaline going. I do all sorts of coaching in all areas of the game but when I see a booking come in for a speed development class, I really get excited.
“In the group lessons, there’s a bit of friendly rivalry in the collective goal of getting faster and further. And everybody wants to hit it past their friends, don’t they?”
During Covid, Borrowman set out on his own Project 200, a challenge to break the 200mph barrier for ball speed. When he achieved it, his boisterous celebration that was captured on video just about rocked the Wallace Monument.
“I love smashing it,” he said with relish. And on that note, it was back to the Thunderdome.